Described as a subgenre of science fiction, steampunk incorporates technology inspired by 19th-century steam-powered machinery set in the British Victorian Era. Some examples of steampunk can be seen in films like “Wild Wild West” and “Around the World in 80 Days.”
This weekend the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts and History will hold the second annual Steampunk Explorigins, featuring two days packed with steampunk festivities.
Kelsey Grafton, the center’s exhibit and programming coordinator, said the Universe-A-Tea event will be introduced Friday at the Lewis-Clark plaza as an introductory crash-course on steampunk.
Carrie Lawrence, owner of Steampunked Out, will begin with the first panel, titled “From Fact to Fantasy: Tips on how to visually create your character or world.” Her discussion will dive into the many ways you can be creative with your own steampunk costume.
A panel following at 6 p.m. will feature University of Idaho English department professor Victoria M. Arthur, who has a Ph.D. in 19th century British literature, and LCSC professor of chemistry Rachel Jameton. Both will talk about their perspective and viewpoints of steampunk.
The final discussion will be a Q&A with Lawrence and Roger Brown, owner of Brass Robbin. Grafton said Lawrence and Brown have traveled to various steampunk conventions to sell their work, and this year they’ll answer questions from curious minds who wish to learn more about steampunk.
“This is a really good opportunity for people to come out and get a taste of what steampunk is,” Grafton said. “To be able to explore this other world with creativity is really something.”
A large part of Friday’s Universe A-Tea event is tea dueling, which is just about as British as it sounds. Tea dueling involves a Pot Master, a Tiffin Master and two participants, each armed with nothing more than tea and biscuits.
The Tiffin Master serves as a referee for the bout and offers each participant a plate of biscuits and says, “Choose your weapon.”
After the participants shake hands, the Pot Master then pours equal amounts of tea into both cups.
At the count of five, both participants dunk their biscuits about 5 inches into their tea and then take them out. Once the biscuits are raised, both participants must attempt to cleanly eat their biscuits, hoping they don’t crumble or fall apart. To secure a clean “nom,” as they say in the world of tea-dueling, the participant must consume the biscuit in its entirety, with no fallen crumbs or chunks.
“Tea dueling is kind of a new phenomenon,” Grafton said. “But when it starts, people get really into it. You’d be surprised.”
Once the tea has settled and the biscuits have crumbled, Steampunk Explorigins welcomes the second day with the highlight of the weekend –– the steampunk ball.
“This event is truly special because people come out dressed to the nines in their own steampunk costume,” Grafton said. “The ball embodies everything that steampunk stands for.”
Throughout the night, the ball will include a photo booth, a costume contest, refreshments and live music by six-piece Seattle electro-swing band Good Co.
Grafton said Good Co.’s throwback swing sound with a modern edge makes it a perfect choice for steampunk entertainment.
For those who find the steampunk genre intimidating, Grafton said the event has been organized in a way to be inclusive for all walks of life.
“We have people on hand who are willing to help you out with costumes and developing your character,” Grafton said. “The people who join the fun cover such a widespread demographic.”
All proceeds from the event will go to the center’s youth arts programming.
Those interested can find more information at www.lcsc.edu/cah/exhibits-events.
If You Go
What: Steampunk Explorigins
When: 4–8 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Lewis-Clark Plaza
Cost: Tickets are $10 for the Universe-A-Tea and $25 for the ball, $20 for students with ID. Tickets can be purchased at www.lcsc.edu/cah/exhibits-events/steampunk-ball/, the LCSC SUB information desk or at the door.